Panasonic Tacks on GF Design Again

The GF line from Panasonic has been an interesting design dance to watch. The original GF1 was clearly targeted towards more sophisticated, enthusiast shooters. Each step from the GF1 to 2 to 3 to 5 seemed to progress further towards the entirely novice shooter, as controls were removed and the camera simplified. Now, with the announcement of the GF6, we have some movement back towards enthusiast.

gf6.jpg

First, the Mode dial has returned. Next, a new dedicated Fn button has appeared.We get a new lever that can control power zooms or if one of those isn't mounted, exposure compensation. All these things are movements back towards giving the more sophisticated user more direct control. Other new bits: the screen now tilts up to 180 and is of a higher quality (1.04m dots), the camera uses the 16mp sensor (from the GX1), and both WiFi and Near Field Communication (NFC) have been added.

The NFC seems a little gimmicky. While some are touting it as a simplification to connecting to WiFi, once the WiFi is paired once I'm not seeing the advantage. I suppose if you're completely promiscuous in terms of WiFi devices you connect to, it might be simpler than typing passwords, but how many NFC-equipped WiFi devices does the average person even have access to?

The good news is that the WiFi is reasonably well designed, perhaps as good as we've seen to date in mirrorless cameras, and Panasonic has both iOS and Android apps that allow you to control the camera from your mobile device (including a remote live view image). Of the mobile app connections I've seen so far, Panasonic seems to have gotten far more right than others (I'm looking at you Nikon).

That said, this is a modest upgrade to the GF5: new sensor, added WiFi, tilt screen, a few controls. Many of the things that were already quite likable about the GF5 remain in the GF6, and a GF5 owner moving to a GF6 won't be lost in making the switch.

As usual, I've added a data page for the new camera to the site.

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